It wasn't hard to see that he was a beautiful man, when he wasn't bruised and bloody; but sitting here in the interrogation room, in naught but a pair of jeans, with road rash on his chest, and cuts stripping down his back (looks to be made from a whip), and a busted lip; a swollen nose; bruised eyes; bruised cheeks, it's hard to imagine how beautiful he is.
There's a burn on his shoulder; a sort of brand; and he seems angriest about this; because the others may leave behind scars, but they can be covered; this brand will be easily noticed by one, and many (many; because he is a gigolo, and Shane thinks this is damn hysterical).
He has been polite so far; but he seems to be losing his patience, not that Lem particularly blames him, with the way Shane is treating him; almost like he deserved what happened to him; and while Lem doesn't approve of his chosen line of work, he has to admit; no one deserves what happened to this man.
But they've been in here for hours; and they are still waiting on Vic, and the gigolo is getting antsy, and he seems to be unable to sit still (and after the things he reported, Lem doesn't understand how he can sit at all). Lem has tried to calm him down, but it had been to no avail. He's standing at the window, looking down into the pen; and Lem knows he's probably trying to figure out what it would take for them to throw him in there; and the sad part is, it wouldn't take much; and in all honesty, Shane is getting close to that point right now.
"Do you want a coke?" Lem asks suddenly as he stands from the chair he had been sitting across from the gigolo in, and the man barely seems to have heard Lem; only showing that he had by giving Lem a slight glance; but he doesn't answer,
"I do!" Shane says a little too loudly, sighing a little too exasperatedly, glaring at the victim a little too angrily; and Lem nods raising his hand slightly in acknowledgement as he leaves the room; and he passes a curious Dutch in the hall, but he keeps his eyes on the floor; because Vic doesn't like Dutch; and if Vic doesn't like Dutch that means he can't like him either; and there's nothing he can do about it (despite the fact that he thinks this is completely unfair; and a little childish).
He hears Terry calling to him from down the hall; but he doesn't stop, just raises his hand slightly; he knows Shane will get annoyed because he isn't rushing back with his coke, but he needs to get in the Clubhouse, and talk to Vic; because he feels terrible for what happened to the gigolo, and he wants to help him; despite Shane, and Vic's assumptions that the man had brought it on himself by choosing the line of work he chose; but Lem knows better. He knows that sometimes you don't have a choice; and no matter how much the decision eats at you, you have to do it, because there is no other way for you to make it; and he just wants to help where, and when he can.
It's been obvious since the start that the name he gave them was an alias, so Lem knows that Vic will likely have found nothing on him in the system; but the gigolo had given Vic a full license plate number, and that should be helpful; because Vic could easily find the man's address, and get a search warrant; but Lem has gotten the idea that Vic just doesn't care (not that he blames him, because he himself is having trouble understanding how the hell they got this case; when it's clearly a rape case; and is in no way associated with gangs), so he knows that if anything is going to be done on this, then he needs to do it himself; because the other guys just don't seem to give a damn.
But Vic isn't in the Clubhouse; and his voice is echoing in his ears; and he just doesn't understand it; what happened? Where did Vic go; and why? Surely he would have told them if he was leaving? Lem leaves the door open, though it will annoy Vic, and makes his way to the kitchen to grab Shane's coke; and he can't decide what to get the gigolo for several moments, and settles on tea; because it is a neutral beverage. And right now he isn't sure where that man stands.
He meets Terry at the topstep, and the man gives him an address that Vic had left with him; and Lem can't understand why Vic told Terry where he was going; but he neglected to tell him and Shane, he murmurs a thank you, and heads to the interrogation room; Dutch says hello to him this time, and starts to ask something; but Lem has long since mastered the art of avoiding eye contact; avoiding questions; and remaining silent; and he manages to get inside the room without letting Dutch know anything (not that it's very difficult, considering he knows nothing on this case right now; but he knows Dutch, like him, is wondering why, and how The Strike Team got this screwed up case).
Placing the cup of tea on the table, Lem asks the man to sit down, as he hands Shane his coke, and sends him out for a smoke; Shane politely leaves him the coke; and Lem hasn't got the heart to tell him that he doesn't drink the stuff anymore. It's bad on an ulcer to keep pouring acidic things like coke on it; so he's long since stopped, not that anyone seems to notice (the same way they don't seem to notice that he's stopped eating lemons; and the same way they don't seem to notice that he's stopped eating sweets; stopped picking up girls with Shane and Terry; stopped keeping long nights; the same way they don't seem to realize he is drifting away from them; leaving them behind on their isle of injustice, labeled as legal; trying to swim as far away from their corruption as he can, before it is too late for him; and he's as corroded as they are).
The man sits slowly; and he seems more agitated than before; not that Lem blames him, he would be furious if he was in that man's position. He has that perp's address, so he supposes he can let the gigolo go; and he realizes when he asks him to leave his number, and address; it isn't strictly work related; the gigolo doesn't seem to notice, or care though; he writes it out and asks, politely in a clean, smooth; gentle voice if there is anything else he can do to help with the investigation; Lem wants to tell him that a date would help, but he isn't like Shane; and ends up watching the man walk out of the room.
The tea remains untouched; and Lem realizes that if the man had taken a sip from it, he would probably have drank it; but he ends up pouring it out.
He has spent a long time trying to convince himself that he isn't like the rest of the team; trying to convince himself that he's a good person; that he's the person he has always wanted to be. And for a while he had done a good job of convincing himself; of being that person. But standing here now… he isn't so sure.
It occurs to him that he would have liked to have Vic here; but lately the other man seems to be off in his own world; he seems, and Lem isn't sure why, to be having problems; maybe he should ask Shane about it; he isn't sure what to do anymore; everything is so hard for him; everything is so difficult, that it's grown tiresome just to wake up; and he doesn't like that.
He knows he should be, but he isn't expecting a young girl to answer the door; he politely asks to speak with her father; she seems confused, considering the hour; but the man comes to the door ('what can I do for you, detective?') all the same; and the clothes are confusing; the slow soft drawl; the fact that this man is a Christian; how could a Christian do the things this man did, and still be able to smile at someone?
It doesn't take much to get him to agree to come to the station; after all, he just wants to help in any way he can. The Barn is south; but he goes north; and the man mentions it; but Lem brushes his concerns off; drives him out to an underpass, where no one will hear them; and he asks the man to get out of the car, confused, and very obviously a little scared, he does as Lem asks.
His hands are shaking; and he is having just a little bit of trouble breathing; and he knows why, but he can't admit it yet (and it will be nearing morning by the time he finally does). He has the man call his daughter; tell her he was released, after he answered all of Lem's questions; tell her he will be home later.
And then comes the question Lem was expecting, but had hoped he wouldn't have to answer; what does he want?
That's a tricky question, he answers as he sits on the hood of his jeep, and gazes into nothing; there's a lot he wants, but none of it is quite as obtainable as he would like it to be. And so they remain there in silence, with Lem contemplating what he is about to do, and the man fiddling with his cellphone; Lem knows he is likely tempted to call the police; and so he decides to speak.
He tells the man about how he knows of his deviancy; about the rapes; the beatings; the prisoners; sex slaves, if you will; all of the sick things he does. Of course he denies it all; but Lem doesn't want to hear it; so he cuts him off; a way he has never done before, a way he wishes he didn't enjoy as much as he does; he punches him in the mouth.
He goes down; and to his surprise, Lem follows after him; and in the back of his mind he remembers how hard it is for him to stop once he starts doing things like this; and he realizes that all of his hard work is going out the window with each swing; with each sound of squelching blood beneath his knuckles; but with each drawback he feels the tension lifting from his shoulders; and his body begins to feel so light; that he isn't fully aware of the fact that his arms are still moving.
There's more blood on him then he ever remembers having on him before; and he's scared, because he knows why he's doing this; and for whom; and he can't stop; because he can't admit this is who he really is; and his barely contained violence is leaking out across the pavement; and he's just trembling; and a recoil is about to hit him, and he isn't sure he'll be able to put himself back together after this.
His breathing is ragged, and he stumbles to his feet; there's a strange burbling sound coming from the man on the ground; and Lem knows that it is likely that the man isn't going to live. And he doesn't know how to deal with this. There is blood running down his hands; dripping from his fingertips, and splashing on his boots.
And the reflection of the moon in these drops is so gorgeous, that the gasping, gurgling sounds almost don't bother him.
He is nothing, if not human; and the human in him is almost enough to make him get in his jeep and drive away; but the rest of him is scooping the man up off of the pavement, and putting him into the backseat; as he climbs into the driver's seat he realizes that the man might die; that he will have beat a man to death, with his bare hands. And he almost can't move for that thought.
He drops the man off out front of the hospital; and calls it in.
Never one for driving aimlessly throughout the city, Lem finds himself parked out front of an apartment building; and he tries to think of an excuse for the blood dried, and flaking off of his hands. In the end he finds himself climbing the steps; not really caring about the looks he's receiving.
For a few moments he worries his knocks will go unanswered; but finally the gigolo answers; and he looks shocked to see Lem; or perhaps that has more to do with the blood. His face is still broken, and bruised; he's still a little swollen; but now that Lem is sure, this man is probably the most beautiful thing in the world to him.
Realization seems to dawn on the man, for he simpers, and runs his fingers through his hair, looking nervous, and a little embarrassed; and Lem supposes that's because he's in sweats; but he doesn't care; he just wants confirmation. The man lets him in, and closes the door behind him; sits him at the kitchen table, and rushes off to get a towel, and some water.
While he is gone, Lem marvels at his apartment; not because it's big, or fancy; but because it's full of sports memorabilia, and to him that's quite strange, considering the man is a gigolo; with quite a bit of male clientele.
When he returns he sits beside Lem, and washes the blood from his hands, and arms, and he tries to talk; tries to make things okay; but Lem knows that he can't be lulled into a false sense of security; and so the small talk dies; and Lem wonders if in the city a man has just died. And yet he doesn't really care.
When the towel touches his face, Lem finds himself gazing into the man's eyes, and he realizes he needs confirmation; but he knows he's right, because those beautiful green eyes sparkle with the same force they did before (and it feels like a life time ago, now); and those lips smile with the same inviting quirk that they used to; and he isn't sure he can resist much longer; and he knows he needs his answer before he allows himself to be drawn in; "What's your name?" his voice is a little rough; raspy; tired, and the man just smiles,
"Ronald Everett Gardocki." His voice is smooth, calm; soft drawl; like it always has been; like it always will be.
And Lem kisses him; after what feels like a thousand lifetimes ripping through him all at once. He closes his eyes; and he falls.
… and falls.
He opens his eyes; and the sun is shining in the window; and he knows that today he will find, and lose everything, and everyone he loves all over again.
A/N: I understand this is incredibly confusing; but it's just... limbo; it's in between, and Lem can't make it out just yet (neither can Shane, though). There's some stuff that might make it easier to understand this fic, like knowing the songs it's based off of, which happen to be "What if" by Edge of Dawn, and "A thousand Years" by Christina Perri (and a little bit of "Everything to lose" by Dido)... but it's mostly just What if.